Social stratification in Bangladesh is characterized by a hierarchical class system based on factors such as wealth, education, occupation, and ethnicity. The upper class includes wealthy businesspeople and landowners, while the lower class comprises rural farmers and informal sector workers. In addition, there exists a significant ethnic divide, with ethnic Bengalis occupying the majority of lower and middle-class positions, and ethnic minorities, such as the Chakmas and the Rohingya, facing significant discrimination and marginalization. Caste systems also exist in rural areas where certain groups consider themselves superior to others. Social mobility is limited in Bangladesh, with individuals and families often remaining in the same social class for multiple generations.
Social Stratification in Bangladesh
There are two main stratifications of Bangladesh society. They are:
- Rural Stratification
- Urban Stratification
In social stratification in rural society, the land is the main basis. The following classes are seen in rural society based on the amount of land and its ownership.
- Landless farmer: This type of farmer is further divided into two types.
(a) Those who have neither homestead nor agricultural land.
(b) Those who have homestead but no agricultural land.
- Marginal farmer: Those who have got land below one acre.
- Small Farmer: Those who have land from 1 acre to 3 acres.
- Middle farmer: Those who have land from 3 acres to 7 acres. They are comparatively solvent and have the opportunity to improve their condition.
- Rich farmers: They have got land from 8 acres and above. They are not directly connected with agriculture. They engaged in trade and commerce, and the village politics controlled them. Many of them live in towns.
On the other hand, in the case of social stratification in Urban society, ownership of land or wealth, power and education, etc., play an important role. Based on these elements, Urban society is divided into five classes.
- Upper class: They are the rich group. There are the owners of different mills and factories, industrialists, businessmen, marketing agents of the services sector, importers and exporters, local agents of international organizations, etc.
- Upper Middle Class: The upper middle class includes the different expert professional classes besides the medium type of industrialists and businessmen.
- Middle Class: They are men of limited income, such as small service holders, professionals, businessmen, growers, etc.
- Lower Middle Class: They are petty services holders and businessmen with small capital. They are active in earning money through skilled labor rather than physical labor.
- Lower Class: Lower class means the poor people in urban areas. They are large in number. In many cases, they have no permanent source of income. They have no permanent residence also. A portion of them is called the floating pullers. They break bricks and engage in even non-conventional labor of different types.
An analysis of the nature of social stratification in Bangladesh shows that the difference between rural and urban areas is great. The wealth in the rural area is limited. In urban areas, there are more opportunities to earn money. So the difference in wealth between the poor and the upper class and the rich citizen is greater.